Obamacare is an attempt at an inter-generational and inter-demographic wealth transfer. It is an effort to redistribute income and benefits to the core of Obama’s support and the urban precincts of Blue America away from older and suburban Americans. It is an effort, in part, to insure immigrants and their children. The winners and losers under Obamacare dovetail with the “cross-tabs” of the 2008 election. That is, a look at the numbers within the numbers shows that the young and multicultural stand to gain. By contrast, the older and wealthier stand to pay. In a campaign interview last year with CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo, Candidate Obama refused to back down when asked about raising taxes for distribution’s own sake in the midst of a recession. President Obama is keeping his word.
In the 2008 election, Obama lost the 65-and-up vote, 53 percent to 45 percent. On the other hand, young voters went for Obama by better than 2:1. Further, in a break with the past, young voters were actually a greater segment of the electorate than seniors. As grandma and grandpa were staying home on Election Day, the Millennial Generation was running to the polls. Now Obama’s health plans will squeeze savings from the elderly’s Medicare to fund expanded care for poorer and immigrant millennials.
More than 8 in 10 Americans are satisfied with their own healthcare. The elderly in particular are devoted to Medicare. Americans want improved health and healthcare. Americans want scientific advances, including strides in stem-cell research. And yes, Americans want the government to spend money on those programs that stand to help all of us. What Americans do not want is to be put in harm’s way for the sake of some grand political cause. The president has acknowledged his desire to shift wealth from some to others. He is happy to accept the support of his proposed beneficiaries. He should not be surprised by the resistance of his designated targets.
Yet the GOP should not take too much solace from the president’s travails. Regardless of whether Obamacare goes down, the country will need to grapple with entitlement and medical costs, the demands of a rising population of aging Americans, the demands of a growing population of uninsured immigrants and their children, the gap in life expectancy between whites and African-Americans, and the fact that combating disease has become the political equivalent of sending a man to the moon. These are difficult tasks for both parties.